MCAs seek Supreme Court advisory

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 00:00 |
Nandi County Assembly. Photo/PD/FILE

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

Ward Representatives from Kericho and Nandi counties have moved to the Supreme Court, seeking legal advisory on the role they are expected to play, once they receive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) amendment bill.

Through Speakers Dominic Rono (Kericho) and Joshua Kiptoo (Nandi), the Ward Reps sought advisory opinion, on how to process a bill to amend the Constitution.

In a joint petition, the MCAs also sought to know whether they can amend a bill of that nature, at least to reflect views received during public participation.

They also sought to know whether county assemblies are required by law to conduct public participation forums before debating a bill to amend the Constitution.

According to them, the grey areas needed to be ironed out since the BBI bill will soon be presented to them for consideration. 

In essence, attention will now shift to the Supreme Court because it might change the course of the BBI programme.

“The first question is whether county assemblies are obliged to conduct public participation, when considering a bill to amend the Constitution through popular initiative,” they said in a statement released to the media.

The Ward Reps who are expected to play a critical role in the planned BBI referendum also sought to know the voting threshold: whether approval is by simple majority, half of the assembly or super majority of at least two-thirds.

According to the speakers, these were some of the challenges assemblies across the country faced when they were presented with the Punguza Mzigo constitutional Amendment Bill last year.

The bill sponsored by Thirdway Alliance Party failed to meet the threshold after several assemblies voted against it.

“We are hoping that the Supreme Court’s guidance will not only bring clarity to the procedure and consideration that the Constitution anticipates of county assemblies, but will also help standardise the process when considering such bills in future,” they stated.

The two assemblies also want a clarification regarding the approval of Constitutional Amendment Bill under popular initiative by Parliament.

Critical questions

They say the law is silent on the process and procedure that Parliament has to use when considering and passing a bill to amend the Constitution.

“We have noted that that there is no explicit guidance in both the Senate and the national assembly’s Standing Orders in this regard,” the statement reads.

On Monday, BBI Secretariat co-chairs Dennis Waweru and Junet Mohamed announced that collection of the signatures, which form a critical part in the referendum process, will be launched today at the Kenyatta Internation Convention Centre KICC.

“We now call upon all Kenyans of goodwill, those who want to see an end to corruption, ethnic antagonism, marginalisation of sections of society, the empowerment of youth, women and disabled to board the BBI train,” the duo said.

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